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Capturing the islands’ attractions for all ages

By Staff | Sep 9, 2015

Karen Bartlett is the Adventurer in Chief of Mostly Kids Guides. Bartlett is currently working on a “Mostly Kid’s Guide” for Sanibel, Captiva and surrounding areas. BRIAN WIERIMA

With Sanibel and Captiva Islands being one of the top tourist destination in the world, there are many guides out there highlighting the attractions the area brings.

But there will be a guide about the islands and its surrounding areas which will appease to all ages, which is highlighted by interesting graphics, wonderful photos and strong, precise text which explains each attraction suited for all ages.

Karen Bartlett is the Publisher/Adventurer in Chief of Mostly Kids Guides and her next project will feature Sanibel and Captiva Islands, along with the surrounding area’s attractions.

Bartlett’s first guide featured the Naples and Marco Island area and it was well received for its colorful photos and graphics, along with featuring that area’s top attractions.

Although the graphics and fun photos are geared towards kids, the “A Mostly Kids’ Guide to Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades”, parents or grandparents are also a target audience and it shows in the versatile guide.

Karen Bartlett takes the majority of photos which appears in her “Mostly Kid’s Guides” by being a hands-on journalist and taking trips to the areas she is covering. BRIAN WIERIMA

“Mostly Kids’ Guides don’t fit into any niche,” Bartlett said. “I’m often introduced as an author of children’s books, and I’m most definitely am not, in the classic sense. I write super-awesome destination guidebooks for families with, and sometimes without, kids.”

In her first guidebook about Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, Bartlett was able to capture some high-energy attractions and effectively communicated that information in an interesting way which appeals to both kids, parents and grandparents.

The book was well received in the area with its tidbits of history and some fun knowledge not known by the visitors or residents alike.

“If anyone ever doubted Naples, Florida, as an exciting family destination, this jam-packed guidebook has exquisitely dispelled that notion,” said Naples Mayor John F. Sorey III in a testimonial for the guidebook.

That’s exactly what Bartlett takes genuine pride in when she is writing and working on her guidebooks, the fact her writings are accurate, with a big sprinkle of fun added to the pages in the form of graphics and photos.

A Mostly Kids’ Guide to Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades was Karen Bartlett’s first work. She is now working on a guide featuring attractions of Sanibel, Captiva and the surrounding areas. BRIAN WIERIMA

“It’s not advertising, it’s editorial,” Bartlett said of her work. “These books have something for everyone. There are interesting things for toddlers, for parents who can choose activities for their toddlers and also for the hearing/sight impaired. There is reading for older kids who are 13-plus years of age, too.

“My goal is to teach, without the kids actually knowing they are learning, because it’s fun.”

Bartlett has immersed herself in the culture of Sanibel and Captiva, taking tours, visiting as many attractions of the islands as possible and interviewing and talking with the residents and tourists alike to gain a level of knowledge from as many people as possible.

The author/publisher has a strong background in the field of communications, after running a successful ad agency in Atlanta for 15 years.

She was brought to the Fort Myers/Naples area to work with Robb & Stuckey Furniture Store.

“After a few years, I was burned out and worked at a magazine as travel editor,” Bartlett said. “Then I also work for a travel destination book editor to shoot photos. I worked on 11 books for them, but it quite wasn’t the freedom I wanted, so I told myself, ‘I can do this.'”

Bartlett started on her first guidebook focusing on the Naples and Marco Island area. Since she had already gathered many photos of the area while working with the tourist destination magazine and book editor, she was already halfway there.

“I also had a lot of photographer friends who were happy to supply photos, as well,” Bartlett said. “I wanted the guidebook to be warm and happy, so I threw a lot of confetti in it, with mud tracks tracking through pages about swamp buggy races.

“I just had a good time putting things on paper that if I was a kid or a grandmother would enjoy seeing.”

So Bartlett incorporated many catchy graphics and photos, which depict such things as the beauty of nature, funny images of animals, historical photos capturing things such as the Calusa Indians and pirates of the area and plenty of good-natured pics of kids having a blast in the area.

It’s easy to get enveloped into the pages, with your eyes scanning all the graphics and pics which have integral meanings about the area Bartlett is writing about.

“I wanted the kids to learn something while reading the books,” Bartlett said. “But I also wanted it to be fun, so I grabbed some crayons and used my imagination and drew things as I went on through the book.”

For her second “Mostly Kids Guides” project, the attractions of Sanibel and Captiva will be focused on, and there are many of them.

Some of the top attractions which will appear in Bartlett’s guidebook include popular destinations such as “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge, The Baileys-Matthews National Shell Museum, CROW, The Bubble Room on Captiva, Jensen’s Marina, the miles of bike paths, The Lighthouse on Point Ybel and of course, the world-wide popular beaches of both islands – just to name a few.

It’s just a taste of what Bartlett has in store for sharing all the treasures which the islands bear.

“To get my material, I go on every adventure I can take,” Bartlett said. “I bought a waterproof watch, just so I can go dig in the water.”

Bartlett will be working on her Sanibel-Captiva guidebook for the next three months, as she will become a regular visitor gathering information and snapping plenty of energetic photos in the entire area, which will include the barrier islands and Pine Island.

“It will go into production in October and I will be delivering books to stores and shops in January,” Bartlett said. “I will be listing all my resources in the guidebook, as well.”

Producing the guidebook itself has already been a fun and fascinating project already for the hands-on author. She is very familiar with the islands and the surrounding area since she has lived in the area for years, but she said she learns something new everyday.

Just having the opportunity to share her experiences through words, photos and graphics with children and families, makes the long hours and hard work all worth it.

“I have no grandchildren, yet, so this is my way to be a grandmother,” Bartlett laughed. “But I don’t just cover the attractions, but I also cover unique restaurants, like the Bubble Room, that families will want to visit. Everybody gets the coverage.”

There will be star attractions on the book cover, featured in colorful photos, but Bartlett does a good job highlighting each and every destination in her guidebook.

It will be a guidebook which belongs in every minivan or rental car driving on the islands, and one which can be passed around by every family member, with interest to each and every one of them.

To visit Bartlett’s website and see her “A Mostly Kids’ Guide to Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades“, go to www.mostlykidsguides.com or email her at mostlykidsguides@gmail.com if there is a destination which you think should appear in her highly-rated guidebook on Sanibel, Captiva or the surrounding area.